Although I like her glossy red cape and can imagine me wearing it during the autumnal season, I do not see myself as the mysterious character played by Juliette Binoche in Chocolat where she opens up a chocolatier in a sleepy french village. Her edible chocolate creations evoke warm emotions and aphrodisiac qualities in all those who take a bite. Like her character though, I have to say, I have been enjoying playing in my little kitchen with chocolate and two every day ingredients: salt and pepper.
Its such a shame that we in the West tend to use salt and pepper as a condiment, as both can be seen as a ingredient in their own rights. Something I discovered when I first tried a recipe for Malay Black Pepper Tofu; and now in these Chocolate Muffins.
These may look the same as the Sea Salt and Chocolate Muffins, but I assure you these are very different in flavour.
You see beneath its molten brown cookie like tops, these muffins have warmly embraced a dark spice. You won't see it as its well disguised, but when it explodes in your mouth - you will immediately recognise its fiery warmth coming from freshly cracked black pepper. It dances on your tongue for a while than disappears under the sweetness of the chocolate. I personally preferred these much more than I did the salty variation.
If you do wish to make this recipe, please please do not substitute the freshly ground black pepper for already ground one, it won't have the same heat. And I shouldn't be saying this, but if you don't want to make a dozen black pepper and chocolate muffins; or sea salt and chocolate muffins. Why not half this chocolate muffin mixture and add 1 heap teaspoon of sea salt to one bowl and about ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper to the other - that way you get a taste of each! I am sharing this with Lady Behind the Curtain Cast Party Wednesday#18; and Lets Do Brunch hosted by The 21st Century Housewife.
Chocolate and Freshly ground Black Pepper
140g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of fine salt
200g golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
160g unsalted butter, melted
120g dark chocolate roughly chopped
1 - 1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus extra for garnishing)
Preheat oven to gas mark 3.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Then gently stir in the milk and vanilla extract until well combined. Gradually blend the two mixtures together, alternating now and again until the ingredients are well combined. Then stir in the melted butter, followed by the chocolate and freshly ground black pepper.
Spoon the mixture into muffin cases.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the muffins to cook before removing out onto a wire cooling rack.